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DSL Fuel Does DSL have enough gas to overtake cable in the broadband race?

By Eric S. Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With dropping prices and growing availability, analysts nowproject DSL to overcome cable modems in number of broadbandsubscribers. In October, for example, Cahners In-Stat Grouppredicted DSL subscriptions in North America-2.9 mil-lion atyear-end 2000-would jump past cable to 8.6 million by 2003.

One reason for the projections is that DSL lines are beginningto reach farther into the suburbs. While most lines now extend only12,000 to 14,000 feet from each central office, new line-extensiontechnology is increasing that to 18,000 to 24,000 feet.Furthermore, new equipment is making DSL compatible with thedigital loop carrier equipment used in many outer suburbs.

DSL subscriptions are also being fueled by lower prices. Overthe past year, major DSL providers have dropped the price of basicmonthly packages (typically 384Kbps to 640Kbps downstream and128Kbps up) from a minimum $49.95 down to $39.95, about the same ascable-modem service. What's more, providers typically rent therequired modems for free and run frequent promotions that reduceinstallation fees.